What is Content Marketing?

If you Google “What is content marketing?” you will most likely be directed to the following definition from the  Content Marketing Institute:

 Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. 

Unfortunately, that description leaves much to the imagination while doing little to inspire it. That is: it uses a lot of words to say very little. One would expect better content from an institute that purports to study it. Their expository failure is our explanatory opportunity, however, and it is a very appropriate challenge. As you will shortly see, a D.I.Y. work ethic is a critical component of content marketing.

Here is a statement that better captures the entirely unique power of this fast-growing strategy:

 Content Marketing communicates complex ideas, like mission and vision, as an emergent property of sustained (truthful) messaging. 

The long-term goal of content marketing is building an unshakable brand identity within the minds of consumers. Unlike more traditional marketing methods, content marketing creates hundreds or thousands of unique interactions. Each person receives the messaging on their own terms. The brand can be “X” in the mind of one person and “Y” to another without any conflict, because it evolved organically through each of their personal experiences.

The short term goal of content marketing is generating inbound traffic and links to your website to improve SEO, while growing an audience to increase impressions for the brand, multiply the effectiveness of future content marketing and be a platform for social media campaigns.

masthead for content marketing

How does content marketing work?

In short: by blogging and engaging with customers on social media. Every campaign will be different, but a commitment to publishing content regularly across many channels will eventually yield some degree of success in all of the goals above.

The level of success is determined by the quality of the campaign. Each piece of content represents an opportunity to climb the ranks in Google, make a lifelong advocate, generate an inbound sales lead or increase recognition of your brand. Owned media channels (like a blog, Twitter page or Facebook profile) take the power out of the hands of media companies. By talking directly with consumers, brands develop access and trust that was previously impossible. That is the potential of each individual piece of content. The aggregate effect of content marketing gives life, voice and power to a brand. Businesses with these traits measure success in decades instead of quarters.  Like the quality brands of the past, this success cannot be bought or achieved through any method other than sustained engagement and positive storytelling.

The better a firm is at storytelling, the farther its content will reach and the faster its brand will develop. Content marketing is the power to control the hearts and minds of your customers. That may seem daunting, and it does require effort, but 10 years ago it was an impossibility. Now it is a service.

Ian Bowman-Henderson

Ian Bowman-Henderson heads up content marketing for the Ohlmann Group. Ian's responsibilities include copywriting, SEO, social media management, public relations, and event planning

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